Book Review: “A Spindle Splintered” (Fractured Fables #1) by Alix E. Harrow (three stars)
“Before there were curses—before there were fairies or roses or even spindles—there was just a sleeping girl.”
Fairy tale/science fiction crossover. Since parallel universes admit an infinite number of realities, why not ones where every fairy tale—and all its variations—are true? Well done.
I’ve always resented people for trying to save me, but maybe this is how it works, maybe we save one another.
Turns the traditional Sleeping Beauty inside out. Cliches abound, but some are for the purpose of exposing them. Language cost Harrow a star.
“I hope you find your happily ever after, or whatever.” “Already did,” I say, and it’s possible that my voice is a little gluey, too. “I’m just looking for a better once upon a time.”
(2022 Hugo Awards Novella finalist)
Book Review: The Light Princess by George MacDonald
“He could not tell whether the queen mean light-haired or light-heired; for why might she not aspirate her vowels when she was exasperated herself?”
Fun. Unexpected and untypical (of MacDonald). A trailblazer of modern fantasy, MacDonald’s stories are often deep in meaning and dense with prose. This hundred and fifty year old tale is neither. Light and easy to follow. Raises the suspicion this is a modern paraphrase, yet many of the puns and word plays must stem for the original
“One day he lost sight of his retinue in a great forest. These forests are very useful in delivering princes from their courtiers, like a sieve that keeps back the bran.”
Self-conscious of fairy tale tropes used and abused. MacDonald using and makes fun of standard fairy elements, yet his tale of the redemptive power of self-sacrificial love is typical of his writings.
“She will die if I don’t do it, and life would be nothing to me without her; so I shall lose nothing by doing it.” “Love hath made me strong to go, For thy sake, to realms below.”
Book Review: Roverandom by J. R. R. Tolkien
“You never know what will happen next, when once you get mixed up with wizards and their ‘friends.’”
This is a story for children, specifically for Tolkien’s children motivated by the loss of a toy. More than that will spoil the telling. It’s oral tradition started long before any of his published works, though traces of Middle Earth can be gleaned from reading this final text.
“…on the stomach (where dragons are particularly tender.)”
It’s more profitable to compare this story with Farmer Giles of Ham in The Tolkien Reader and Smith of Wootten Minor, not The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings. Violates some of the very principles he would elucidate within the decade in his address “On Fairy Stories” in The Tolkien Reader.
“…and saw off in the last West the mountains of Elvenhome.”
A fun read, and a rare look into the developing talent of one of the greatest story tellers of the twentieth century. This edition is fully annotated to help modern readers fully appreciate the tale.
“…as quick as kiss your hand.”
Smith of Wootton Major by J. R. R. Tolkien
(Five Stars our of Five)
A visit to Faery. Beware. It may touch your soul.
Unlike Lord of the Rings, which Tolkien famously labored over for decades, Smith came to him in a flash, and he dashed it off whole. It has a rough quality which betrays both that inspiration and that lack of refining. Nonetheless, it should entertain and enrich any reader who appreciate other Tolkien short stories, such as “Farmer Giles of Ham” or “Leaf by Niggle”.
An excellent companion for his essay “On Fairy Stories” from The Tolkien Reader, since Continue reading →